Reviewsday: Leave Me by Gayle Forman

I loved this story, mainly because the characters were so well written. I was prepared not to like “Leave Me” as the main character seemed selfish when reading the blurb. However, as usual Gayle has written very interesting characters that are easy to connect to; events in “Leave Me” could happen to anyone.

9781471156786Maribeth is a mother of young children who has an unexpected heart attack - even though she is only in her early forties. After having double bypass heart surgery, she comes home from hospital and her husband Jason expects everything to go back to normal. My dad had triple bypass surgery so that part of the story was quite real to me. I remember how much time was needed to heal (much longer than the one week Maribeth had before she was released from hospital). I was so indignant at Jason for not understanding that Maribeth needed so much more help than he gave her – she just had major surgery and he thought she could cook dinner and entertain visitors! Really!!!

The pressure to perform as she used to when she was clearly still recuperating becomes too much and Maribeth “runs away”. She leaves home to look after herself, leaving the children with her husband. Maribeth needed to heal physically and emotionally. Taking a large cash withdrawal with her she takes a train from New York to Pittsburgh, and lives a simple life off the grid. After having her whole life planned to the minute with multiple “To Do” lists it is liberating to live freely. Maribeth makes new friends, heals and eventually communicates honestly and in depth with her husband – something they haven’t done before.

What I particularly liked about this story was the character of Maribeth, she is written in a way that I could empathise with her. I understand why she felt she had to leave, even though it was a wrench leaving her family. She pretended to herself it was like a “business trip” and wrote letters to her children (that she did not send), this was the only way she could cope with the emotional trauma of leaving her family - albeit temporarily. After nearly dying Maribeth needed time away to heal and gain perspective.

I really did not like Jason at the start of “Leave Me”, he was unsupportive and didn’t seem to care. However, he redeems himself and I do end up liking the man he becomes. After having to step up to the plate and look after the twins full time, he then realised how much Maribeth did and how much he let her down.

My husband also read this book and enjoyed it. Whilst this story is not his usual genre (he prefers action adventure stories) he did find that it was a worthwhile read for a Sunday afternoon.

~ Kerryn, QBD Northland